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Summary: This early church was so powerful. . .one reason was that they had discovered that each person had gifts, and they used them to MEET NEEDS! The question is, "How can I find MY gifts for ministry?" *HANDOUT INCLUDED*

Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

42 ¶ And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,

45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,

47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

(NKJV)

This church was powerful because they had discovered they could help their members do 5 things:

1. Fortify their faith. (Discipleship)

“They continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine...”

2. Find their talents. (Ministry)

“[They] sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.”

3. Focus on God. (Worship)

“Continuing daily with one accord in the temple. . . praising God. . .”

4. Face life’s problems. (Fellowship)

“Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common. . . and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.”

5. Fulfill their mission. (Evangelism)

“...having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

Today, I want to focus in on one particular part of the secret:

This church had discovered that it could help its members:

FIND THEIR TALENTS.

Too many churches are like the one that Kierkagaard wrote about in his book "And I looked around and nobody was laughing" says this, "I went into church and sat on the velvet pew. I watched as the sun came shining through the stained glass windows. The minister dressed in a velvet robe opened the golden gilded Bible, marked it with a silk bookmark and said, "If any man will be my disciple, said Jesus, let him deny himself, take up his cross, sell what he has, give it to the poor, and follow me."

We’re all too familiar with the TV evangelists, and their pull for money so they can continue to preach in Armani suits and wear fat diamond rings. . . disgusting, isn’t it?

But THIS church – ah, this church was DIFFERENT!

What was different about these people?

1. They saw their talents and gifts as God’s blessing.

“They...had all things in common...”

2. They saw their talents and gifts as their stewardship.

“...and sold their possessions and goods...”

A. J. Gordon once said, I have long since ceased to pray, “Lord Jesus, have compassion on a lost world!” I remember the day and the hour when I seemed to hear the Lord rebuking me for making such a prayer. He seemed to say to me, “I have had compassion upon a lost world, and now it is for you to have compassion.”

3. They saw the needs and hurts as God’s calling.

...and divided them among all, as anyone had need...”

Finding his newly-appointed pastor standing at his study window in the church weeping as he looked over the inner city’s tragic conditions, a layman sought to console him: "Don’t worry. After you’ve been here a while, you’ll get used to it."

Responded the minister, "Yes, I know. That’s why I am crying."

I don’t EVER want to just get used to the idea that people are hurting, that people are needy. At our church, we’ve got a wonderful heritage of ministering to needs.

THE EARLY METHODISTS.

One of the early Methodist bases for works of piety and mercy was the Foundery in London . The main room of the building was large enough to seat 1500 people.

At one time, the Foundery had been a place for casting cannon. In 1738, John Wesley purchased it. He organized the Methodist Society there.

In addition to religious services, other ministries occurred on the premises such as a school for children and the dispensing of money from a loan fund for poor people to help prevent them from paying exhorbitant interest to others, and a medical facility to care for the sick who couldn’t pay.

The Methodists were like this early church – they met the needs of the world they live in!

- They fought to end slavery.

- They championed temperance. They worked to improve prison conditions. They built clinics, schools and orphanages. They helped abolish child labor. John Wesley lived so simply and frugally that at the end of his life, he was giving over 98% of his income to the poor. Even past the age of 80, he spent five consecutive days in the middle of winter walking the streets of London, raising money “to clothe them that needed it the most.” After Wesley’s funeral, at his request, the draperies used in the service were taken down, sewn into dresses, and distributed to needy women in London.

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